Twitter Hacked: Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts

twitter hacked protect your online accounts

Was your Twitter account hacked recently? Over the weekend one of the top stories in the news was about Twitter accounts being hacked again. After the recent hack Twitter announced that:

“This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.

As a precautionary security measure, we have reset passwords and revoked session tokens for these accounts.”

Change Your Twitter Password

Yes, you can run and change your Twitter password right now, but what will you change it to?

How do you create your passwords?

Do you choose something simple that you will easily remember, such as your spouse’s name, your pet’s name, your child’s name, etc.?

Are you one of the many people that uses “password” as your password for everything?

Many years ago passwords were no big deal. Perhaps you worked in an office and had to create a password to logon to your desktop computer and another one to logon to your work email account.

Then you chose to start using online banking, and you needed a password to access your bank accounts.

Then a few years later the Internet became more popular and you started to use things such as Twitter, Facebook and Gmail to keep in touch with friends and family, or to promote your business.

All of a sudden you are inundated with passwords. You get to a point where you feel like everything you touch requires a password.

Do You Use The Same Password for Everything?

passwordSo what do you do?

Do you use the same password for everything so that you will never forget it?

Do you write down your password on a sticky post-it and leave it somewhere to remind yourself of your password or passwords?

A short story: I use to work in desktop support for a large corporation. If someone had an issue with their computer they would call the helpdesk and submit a trouble ticket. We would pick up their calls and go visit them in their offices to help them out.

Since they were often quite busy and we were quite busy, if they weren’t there we would attempt to do the work anyways.

But what if their workstation was password protected? How did we get in? Nine times out of ten we would find their password taped under their keyboard.

On the odd time that we didn’t, we simply had to look around their desk for clues.

You see quite often when people need to create a password in a hurry, they will look up and the first thing that catches their eye, be it their kid’s name, a picture on the wall, a calendar on their desk, or whatever, the first thing they see becomes their new password.

So if you sit at their desk and look around chances are good you will find their password too.

Back to the Twitter Hack

What are the hackers looking for? Why do they even bother to hack all of these accounts?

They are looking for information that they can use elsewhere. And the accounts that they love are the ones owned by people that use the same password for EVERYTHING, especially PayPal.

If you do, you are the person that the hackers are looking for. With your name and your password they can search the Internet for other accounts in your name, and if you use the same password everywhere, they now have quick and easy access. Pretty cool, eh?

Once someone hacks into your email accounts they can access your address book and send spam messages to all of the addresses in there. They can even pretend to be you and solicit people in your address book for money. While that may sound unlikely, it has happened to many people. The email usually says something like “I went on a trip and my wallet and passport was stolen. I need you to help me get home. Can you please wire me money at such and such. I am desperate and really need your help.”

As well, once the hacker has gained access to your email accounts they will be able to open and read any emails you have sent or received.

Think about how often you have sent personal information via email.

How to Protect Your Accounts from Hackers

Passwords

Create what is known as a “strong password”.

Make sure your passwords are at least 8 to 10 characters long.

Use passwords that are difficult to crack such as “8!cEH9a!5K”, and change them often.

Make sure every account you login to has a different password. Do not use the same password for your personal account as you do for your business account, or any other login account for that matter.

Use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers, and special characters such as the exclamation mark, in your password.

Do not use proper names as your password just so that you will be able to remember it easier.

Many people use names of friends or family members.

Proper names and words such as “computer” or “Sally” are so much easier for a hacker to figure out versus using “5T9!c0LT87”.

How Can I Keep Track of All of My Passwords?

KeePass

To keep track of all of your passwords consider using a password manager such as KeePass. KeePass is a free application that runs on your computer, not on the Internet. You can download KeePass here. You can also install KeePass on your cell phone and tablet.

I avoided using this for a long time and now it is a life saver. It will only take a short time for you to enter all of your accounts and passwords and once it is done and saved, it is there at your fingertips.

And the most important part is that everytime you create a new account online, you can use KeePass to generate a new secure password for you.

Now instead of having to remember 10 to 20 different passwords, all you have to remember is your password to logon to your computer and your password to get into KeePass.

A Few More Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts

Airports/Hotels/Coffee Shops

How many times have you been traveling for business and been stuck waiting at the airport for your next flight? So what do you do? You pull out your laptop and catch up on email.

Many airports, hotels and coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi these days. While it may seem convenient to sit in a coffee shop and read your email, what many people don’t realize is that a Wi-Fi connection is not 100% secure. Hackers know how to tap into them and how to access your information without you even realizing it. That is why it is more important than ever to use strong passwords.

Related: Wi-Fi Security from Wikipedia

If you want to use your laptop over a Wi-Fi connection, use it for basic things such as surfing the web. Do not use it to check your email, or worse yet, to check your bank accounts.

Related: How I cracked my neighbor's WiFi password without breaking a sweat (Aug, 2012)

Email Attachments

Never ever click on a document or a link that is included in an email from someone that you do not know, even it is extremely tempting. Do not let your curiosity get the best of you. Delete the email message immediately.

And even if you do know the person, you still need to be careful.

Last week I started getting spam email messages with a link in them from Anthony's email account. If you were online last summer in the PF community you know who I mean. Anthony was a great person to connect with. The email messages were short and fortunately they were directed to my spam folder right away. If you received them as well, make sure you delete them immediately without opening them.

Secondary Email Address

If you enjoy subscribing to online newsletters or if you shop online, you should setup a separate email account to use specifically for those items.

Create a Gmail account on Google and use it for any transactions that you do online.

This includes times when you need to create a new login account to obtain access to a service that you want to use, such as a forum.

When creating your Facebook and Twitter logon accounts never use your primary personal or work email account. Always use an alternative. That way if, and when, your Facebook account or Twitter account is hacked the hackers will see your secondary email address and not your primary email address that most often is filled with sensitive information, as well as your personal address book.

 


Comments

    • Pauline

      Pauline 02/04/2013 5:08 a.m. #

      My personal twitter is hacked. I never used it and have 5 friends or so, poor them they get bombarded with spam all day. I get they want to find passwords and bank accounts, but send links about nonsense websites, is it really worth their time?

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 9:54 a.m. #

        The spam doesn't make sense, but I'm sure it does to someone, and since it is all automated, it really doesn't take much time.

        They showed on the news how the lists of names and passwords are sold and traded online for big money. Very interesting.

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 02/04/2013 5:14 a.m. #

      Great tips from an IT pro! Passwords are annoying but so essential. I do have one password for something I use only rarely and always forget taped to my desk....I will rip it up today ;)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 9:57 a.m. #

        It is annoying that we need a password everytime we turn around. If you have a security alarm on your house you need a password. If you go to take money out of the bank, you need a password. It's nuts.

    • John S @ Frugal Rules

      John S @ Frugal Rules 02/04/2013 7 a.m. #

      My main email was hacked a few months ago and it was a major headache to get it all taken care of. I thought I had changed the password, but it fell through the cracks. I tend to use sentences for my passwords and intersperse numbers & characters throughout. It still amazes me that so many use "password" for their passwords.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 9:58 a.m. #

        That sucks that you were hacked. We just never know when it will happen. I like the idea of sentences! I use a sentence to get into my KeePass too.

    • Debt RoundUp

      Debt RoundUp 02/04/2013 8:14 a.m. #

      I use roboform to create crazy passwords for my logins. I don't even know them. I feel like twitter accounts have been hacked a lot recently.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 9:59 a.m. #

        Yes, they have been hacked alot over the past 18 months. It's a huge database with lots of info.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 02/04/2013 10:49 a.m. #

      I must admit I have the same password for just about all my accounts except for my online bank account and credit card accounts.

      And I use just about all the suggstions you shared about creating a password like family names and bdays or initials because you're right, it's so much easier than remembering #CRr89J0@. One thing I do is log off everything and log off completely, I learned that from our IT guy at my old office job :)

      But you've made such a good point with this post that I'm inclined to go back and change my passwords starting with Twitter! I never heard of KeePass but the features it has are something like the ones I have on my Norton 360 why I don't use it, I don't know!

      Thanks for sharing this, it's a great reminder we need to be a little more secure with our passwords. Hope you're off to a great day!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 11:57 a.m. #

        It is definitely easier to remember names and dates. I use to use favorite words like vacation spots and stuff like that. It is alot quicker to hack everyday words then it is to hack strong passwords, but it is alot harder to remember strong passwords too.

        And I really like your point about remembering to logoff of everything. That is so important, and so easy to forget to do.

        Have a great day as well Cori!

    • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

      Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 02/04/2013 12:06 p.m. #

      Great post. Being hacked is so scary. I had to laugh at your story of everyone keeping their password under their keyboard. I'm pretty sure everyone does/did do that! And we think it's so cleverly hidden too! Thanks for the info on keepass. I'd never heard of it but am definitely going to take a look at it. We need so many passwords these days that it's hard to keep them all straight. Thanks for the timely reminder.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/04/2013 12:14 p.m. #

        Yeah, people think they've come up with a good password but then hide it where anyone can find it. :-) But I think over the years it has been a big adjustment for those of us that didn't use computers as teenagers and then suddenly needed to worry about keeping track of passwords for everything.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 02/04/2013 3:30 p.m. #

      Good to know! I developed an acronym that I can remember and it has kept me safe.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/05/2013 12:42 p.m. #

        And you use the same acronym for everything?

    • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

      Laurie @thefrugalfarmer 02/05/2013 4:49 a.m. #

      Sicorra, I had no idea it was so easy to hack accounts! Thanks so much for the valuable info. I'll be changing my passwords, that's for sure!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/05/2013 12:42 p.m. #

        Unfortunately it is and sometimes it can take away the fun of working online and socializing.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 02/05/2013 5:16 a.m. #

      These are good tips. I have had my email hacked a few times and have had to change my password accordingly.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/05/2013 12:43 p.m. #

        No one ever knows when it will happen to them, all we can do is try to make it as difficult as possible.

    • Cat

      Cat 02/05/2013 11:29 a.m. #

      I have to admit - I've been using the same 2 passwords for most things - seems to work fairly well - never had any issues!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/05/2013 12:44 p.m. #

        It just takes that one time right? It is like when people do not put an alarm on their house until after the first time they have been broken into.

    • Adrienne

      Adrienne 02/05/2013 12:25 p.m. #

      Hi Sicorra,

      Well you know that I was on the same page with this post but at the time I wrote it I didn't know that all of this had happened with Twitter. I found out when my tech friend commented.

      Luckily mine wasn't one they accessed so all was good there. I definitely agree about the strong passwords and a program to help you remember them.

      As you know, I wrote about LastPass and I like that it doesn't sit on my computer. I've had my computer crash many times in the past and although I back everything up, my program aren't. I would hate to lose everything should that happen so I've gone a safer route for me at least.

      Great share and such an important issue. Wish it didn't have to be but we all know it's necessary.

      ~Adrienne

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/05/2013 12:48 p.m. #

        Hi Adrienne,

        Thanks very much for stopping by! Good to hear your accounts at safe as well.

        You make a good point about the password database file being stored on our PC. For me personally not backing up my stuff isn't an option. My husband sees to that. But you are right, what if my machine did crash I would have to reinstall all the programs. Fortunately KeePass is a quick one.

        I am actually due to upgrade my OS soon so I will be reinstalling all of my programs soon too.

    • Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

      Edgar @ Degrees and Debt 02/05/2013 6:29 p.m. #

      WOW! Awesome info here! I am bookmarking all these links!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/06/2013 2:48 p.m. #

        Thanks!

    • KK @ Student Debt Survivor

      KK @ Student Debt Survivor 02/05/2013 7:01 p.m. #

      Thanks for the reminder. I just changed my password. With so many I often forget them. I'm old school about passwords though (I write them all down with my usernames in a notebook). Not super creative but it works for me.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/06/2013 2:49 p.m. #

        It is important to do it often too.

    • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

      Kim@Eyesonthedollar 02/05/2013 9:19 p.m. #

      Thanks for the info. My twitter was hacked a few months ago.It was really annoying. I have changed most of my passwords, but they could probably be stronger. I need to download the keepass for sure.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/06/2013 2:51 p.m. #

        Sorry to hear you were hacked! It truly can be a pain. Managing a lot of passwords isn't a lot of fun but is important these days.

    • Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr

      Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr 02/06/2013 11:29 a.m. #

      Thanks for the information about KeePass. I will definitely check them out. I must hang my head in shame because I totally hid my password under my keyboard when I worked at Corporate America. Bad Tanya! The good news, I am much smarter now and don't use pets as my password. The hardest thing is keeping all the passwords straight as everything needs a password these days. So I appreciate the info about KeePass as I've been wanted to look into storing my passwords in something like that.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 02/06/2013 2:52 p.m. #

        Tanya, maybe we worked at the same place. LOL

        I agree, it is difficult to keep them all organized. I use to keep a written list on my desk at home, but finally began using KeePass. My desk looks a lot better now too :-)

Comments are closed.